MANITOUWADGE -- When a fire breaks out in Manitouwadge, the residents can take comfort in the knowledge that the volunteer fire department will be there to do everything they can to protect you, your family, and your home. They will rush out to accidents on the highway, bringing necessary and sometimes life saving equipment to the scene. They are often the first line of attack at fires in nearby fields or forests.
Don Kruger, who became Manitouwadge’s new fire chief in January 2022, has been in the fire fighting business for more than 17 years, serving as a volunteer, trainer and fire chief. He is excited to be in Manitouwadge, and, taking a page out of a former fire chief’s book, decided to open the firehall to the public every Friday this summer, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Except holidays and other special circumstances). If the bay doors are open, residents, firefighters, retired firefighters, and visitors are welcome to stop by to say hello, ask questions or ask for a tour of the hall.
The firehall’s an exciting and interesting place to visit. Besides the two shiny red fire trucks, there is a Bush Rescue Ranger 6x6, an enclosed trailer for equipment, and a rescue ‘toboggan’. There is also another large multi-use truck that is taken to every incident. This truck carries extrication and stabilization apparatus, ice rescue gear, and other specialized equipment. It can serve as a temporary medical and warmup station. There is seating for six, and is equipped with a sink, fridge and a microwave.
There is a variety of other equipment in the station. Coats, helmets, first aid equipment, hoses and miscellaneous hardware line the walls. There’s a fire hydrant inside one of the bays; it used to be outside, but when the building was extended, they left it in place, providing the firefighters a comfortable atmosphere in which to prepare the trucks for the next emergency.
During your visit, you’ll learn valuable safety tips. You’ll learn why it’s important to check the batteries in your smoke and CO2 alarms, and why these devices should always be used. Don can explain the importance of municipal and provincial laws, and why they must be followed. For instance, the Forest Fire Prevention Act prohibits outdoor fires between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. throughout Northern Ontario, and fires at any other time of day, in town and in the bush, require fire permits. For more information about permits, go to the Manitouwadge Fire Department Facebook page.
When asked why someone would want to become a firefighter, Kruger replied, “These dedicated volunteers are there in every situation where safety is concerned, and they do it, not for pay or glory, but rather to simply serve the public. We’re providing a service to the community that we care about. That’s why we’re here.”
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer and can pass the criteria, which can be found on the Fire Department webpage, you can join this team of 22 dedicated men and women of the Manitouwadge volunteer fire fighting crew.
Although we all hope we’ll never need the fire department, we are grateful that this devoted team is in place when they’re required. Drop on by the firehall next Friday, and let Don know that you appreciate all their hard work and commitment to our town’s safety and well-being.